Blake Hounshell gets it:
The Plan - American Footprints: Here's the nut of the Iraq Study Group's report, which comes out on December 6th:
Committee members struggled with ways, short of a deadline, to signal to the Iraqis that Washington would not prop up the government with military forces endlessly, and that if sectarian warfare continued the pressure to withdraw American forces would become overwhelming. What they ended up with appears to be a classic Washington compromise: a report that sets no explicit timetable but, between the lines, appears to have one built in.
As one senior American military officer involved in Iraq strategy said, “The question is whether it doesn’t look like a timeline to Bush, and does to Maliki.”
Of course, they have failed. It will look like a timeline to Bush, and like not-a-timeline to Maliki.
What the Iraq Study Group should have done, of course--if they wanted to serve their country--was to call for two things, immediately:
- The resignation of Richard Cheney.
- The appointment of a "national security czar," whose decisions Bush would rubber-stamp--no longer the "Decider" but the "Approver."